Beloit Middle School Students Apply STEM Principles and Ingenuity to Build a Working LEGO Robot

Michael Reader

On November 24, 2014, Shaun Zinck of the Beloit Daily News reported on an initiative by a group of middle school students, led by engineering teacher Tammy Spoerk and mentored by high school students. The group is called cyBER (Community Youth Beloit Engineering Robots), and is composed by students from three area middle schools.

The goal of the team was to participate in a FIRST LEGO League competition with an innovative working design project. The outcome was a robot built out of LEGOs and programed to avoid obstacles in front of it (via installed sensors) and perform a series of tasks.

The students earned a standby spot for the state sectionals. Prior to building the robot, the students developed a concept for communicating with other students throughout the world with the aid of a cardboard projector.

Precision Plus directly supports this initiative. Ryan Rewey, Career and Technical Education Director at the School District of Beloit, wrote: “Thanks for your donation to our FLL team, we are continuing to build our program and could not do it without the guidance from our dedicated industry professionals who understand the importance of the industry and education connection.”

Read the full article here.

Beloit Memorial School District Visits Precision Plus in Elkhorn, Wisconsin on February 17, 2014

Michael Reader

On February 17, 2014, a snowy Monday morning in Wisconsin, a contingent of Beloit Memorial School District (BMSD) personnel braved the roads to pay a visit to Precision Plus Inc.  Among the visitors were Superintendent Steve McNeil, Career and Technical Education Director Ryan Rewey, Technical Education teacher Chris Klatt, and Project Lead The Way (PLTW) teacher Tammy Spoerk.

The invitation to visit Precision Plus was extended by Mike Reader, President, when he and Barry Butters, the Director of Education & Training, attended BMSD’s January 28th School Board Meeting. During that event, Precision Plus presented a monetary gift to BMSD’s fledgling first robotics program, and took an opportunity to commend the district’s ‘Career and Technical Education’ efforts and their facilities. Earlier in the year, both Reader and Butters had toured the facilities, with a follow up visit by Barry Butters to talk with Tammy Spoerk’s PLTW classes about Precision Plus and the manufacturing field in general.

“We are excited to be partnering with the Beloit Memorial School District,” said Reader.  Some of the highlights of this collaboration include a visit by Precision Plus’ summer interns to BMSD’s state-of-the-art facility with an opportunity to use their vertical CNC machines; Butters returning to BMSD for another visit to classrooms in the spring semester; and Butters participating in the Beloit School District’s Career Fair on October 6, 2014, during the next school year.

This initiative is part of Precision Plus’ goal to close the manufacturing skills gap.

Beloit Memorial High School in Wisconsin at the Forefront of Technical Education

Michael Reader

On January 28, 2014, Barry Butters, Precision Plus’ Director of Education and Community Outreach and Mike Reader, President, presented a monetary contribution to Beloit Memorial High School’s Project Lead The Way (PLTW)’s Leader Tammy Spoerk, who teaches engineering and STEM classes at the school.

Both Mike Reader and Barry Butters were highly impressed with the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program and Curriculum at Beloit Memorial High School, which has been under the tutelage of Ryan Rewey, Director of Career & Technical Education, since June of 2013.

Following a facility tour on January 7th, Barry Butters commended BMHS for their vision.  Mike Reader added, “Barry and I have toured a lot of educational facilities, high schools, tech colleges, universities, and this is—by far—the best (CNC) training facility we have seen, hands down.”

The video below features Precision Plus’ presentation, and a detailed recap of BMSH’s Career and Technical Education program’s endeavors to the school’s Board of Directors.

Click here to see a short version of Mike Reader’s and Barry Butters’ presentation.

Precision Plus is proud to support the efforts of Beloit Memorial High School’s teachers and students.

Precision Plus on the Move: Barry Butters Visits Area Schools

Michael Reader

As part of the continuing effort to bring attention to the manufacturing industry as a viable career option for today’s youth, Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, and other representatives from Precision Plus Inc. have been traveling to Wisconsin area high schools and technical colleges.

On November 1st, Butters spent the day at Burlington High School’s Career Day Fair.  The event allowed students to gather information from the booths of various prospective employers from a wide array of industries.

“It was evident from the discussions with the students, that there are still a number of misconceptions about manufacturing,” said Butters.

Butters then traveled three and a half hours to Eleva Strum High School on November 7th. Technology Education teacher Craig Cegielski, has developed an operational manufacturing company run by the students within the school. The Eleva Strum staff, students and community were filled with pride about what their program has accomplished to date.  Cegielski’s outstanding efforts bring real-life manufacturing experiences into his classroom.

Butters and Production Supervisor Charles Lankford, traveled to Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville on November 19th.  They took a tour of the CNC Machine Program facility and met with CNC Technician Instructor Rich Grossen.  The entire manufacturing program at Blackhawk will be moving to a new facility in nearby Milton in the near future. The Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at Milton will result in larger capabilities for the program.

On November 26th, both Barry Butters and Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus, traveled to Richmond-Burton High School to speak to an “Introduction to Business” class about the manufacturing industry.  Mike shared the challenges of running a manufacturing business in the current economy, and Barry focused his remarks on employability skills.

Subsequently, Butters traveled to East Troy High School on December 1st to speak to Mark Beilman’s “Introduction to Engineering” class about the manufacturing industry and specifically what is manufactured at Precision Plus Inc.  East Troy is a first-year Project Lead the Way (or PLTW) school with just one-course offering. Beilman shared that East Troy High School plans to add an additional PLTW course each year.  Precision Plus Inc. is a big supporter of the PLTW Program, which follows the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Initiative to promote the field of engineering. The PLTW curriculum strives to provide experiences to stimulate interest in the manufacturing industry.


Reader and Butters attended the State Project Lead the Way Conference in Pewaukee on December 9th, for which Precision Plus is a “Friend of STEM” donor.  At the conference, Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch addressed the state’s PLTW teachers, where she acknowledged the skills gap that companies, such as Precision Plus, are facing.  It was encouraging to see the sheer number of high school educators working in conjunction with the PLTW program through the Milwaukee School of Engineering to stimulate interest in the youth of Wisconsin toward this field.

On January 7th, Precision Plus representatives, President Mike Reader, Director of Sales and Engineering William Wells, Production Supervisor Tom Lankford, Director of Education, and Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, traveled with Elkhorn’s District Administrator Jason Tadlock and Assistant Principal Dan Kiel to tour Beloit Memorial High School’s Technical Education facility. What has been accomplished at this facility in a short period of time is remarkable. Steve McNeal, Beloit’s District Administrator, said it was truly a partnership between the school and local industry leaders.  Beloit Memorial High School has also hired Ryan Rewey to be the Technology Education Coordinator to ensure the program’s success.

Butters again traveled back to Beloit Memorial High School to speak to PLTW teacher Tammy Spoerk’s classes on January 10th.  Butters message centered on the potential for a great career in the manufacturing industry and specifically, what is manufactured at Precision Plus

Butters went back to East Troy High School to speak at their Career Day on January 14th. He and fellow manufacturer Jerry Heckel from Heckel Tool & Manufacturing Corporation gave a presentation to 40 students on the skill-set needed to join the manufacturing industry, including problem-solving skills, a significant background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as experience in traditional metals classes.

Butters plans to visit Delavan-Darien High School and Woodstock High School in the near future.  Mike Reader is committed to the cause of re-introducing the manufacturing industry to the next generation of professionals, dispelling the misconception that manufacturing is a dirty and dangerous profession. Precision Plus Inc. invites any individual or group interested in learning more about the manufacturing industry to their facility for an informational tour.  Furthermore, Barry Butters and Mike Reader will travel to speak to any group interested in learning about the manufacturing industry.  Feel free to contact them with any requests at 262.743.1700 or via email: Barry ButtersMike Reader.